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1991 Epic Soundtrax
2012 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Alexander Courage
Angela Morley
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Epic Soundtrax
(November 26th, 1991)

La-La Land Records
(March 27th, 2012)
Availability Icon
The 1991 Epic album was a regular U.S. release. Several bootlegs, often in the form of 2-CD sets, debuted on the secondary market in 1998 and 1999, led in popularity by the "Concorde" bootleg of the latter year.

The expanded 2012 La-La Land set is limited to 5,000 copies and was available primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $30. Despite passing 3,500 copies sold in its first day, the 2012 set did not sell out quickly as anticipated.
The song "When You're Alone" was nominated for an Academy Award. The score was nominated for a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you want to hear John Williams at his best, for Hook is one of the most thematically diverse, robust, and beautiful orchestral scores of the 1990's.

Avoid it... on the late-1990's bootlegs or the 2012 La-La Land Records set if you demand a comprehensive presentation of the whole score in chronological order and flawless sound, a fantasy dashed by lingering issues with the otherwise impressive 2012 product.
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WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 8/19/12
Hook: (John Williams) Despite the magic inherent in its story, Hook became the epitome of a major studio production disaster. So much passion was poured into the concept by so many imaginative minds and yet, in the watered down movie that resulted, all of that enthusiasm had drained from the spirit of the film and critics appropriately commented that Hook seemed mechanical in its style. Before anything resembling the final picture was undertaken, composer John Williams and his friend and lyricist Leslie Bricusse (with whom Williams had collaborated on songs as far back as Goodbye, Mr. Chips in 1969) had worked in 1985 on a stage musical of Hook's story, but the project was cancelled after the two had completed ten songs. Three years later, director Nick Castle rearranged the story into a script for the big screen, but TriStar removed Castle from directing duties after the final re-write of Hook and replaced him with Steven Spielberg. The ever popular Spielberg, whose artistic prowess was slightly diminished after falling from the pinnacle of success he experienced in the previous decade, was a logical choice for TriStar. The director had always harbored a fascination with the Peter Pan story and had intended at some point to direct a sequel to the tale that very much resembled the premise of Hook. Additionally, he obviously had a strong working relationship with Williams, who naturally adapted much of his work from the failed 1985 concept into the screen translation. Spielberg had also been interested in the idea of creating musicals, for the Peter Pan story or otherwise, but by the time of his involvement with Hook, the musical formula had been dumped in favor of a regular live-action feature with a traditional score. The $80 million budget of Hook eventually bought a strong cast and, mostly, spectacular sets. The busy art direction, however, betrayed the film and became one of its weaknesses, as did many of the big-name supporting actors. The film lacked the spark of life that everyone expected from an imaginative Spielberg offering, and his seeming loss of enthusiasm somewhere along the line also carried over to several of the other production elements.

Luckily, one of the few aspects of Hook not to suffer from this malaise was Williams' music, despite the fact that the composer had been forced to abandon the original musical format of much of his material. Long after the muddled film became an asterisk in Spielberg's career (as well as one of note for Gwyneth Paltrow, for whom Hook was her first major studio film), Williams' massive score endures as one of his fans' favorites. Of the original songs he conjured with Bricusse, two appeared relatively unscathed in Hook (and another became a source piece). Many of the remainder were adapted by the maestro into themes for various elements of the story, which explains why so many of his ideas in the score are so lyrical in nature. As Williams stated in 1992, "I used music which could be also named 'theatrical' or 'ballet music.' When Peter Pan manages to fly, the orchestra plays music that reminds us of a very fast dance of a ballet. The same in the Ultimate War sequence. The music follows the rhythm of the picture, underlines the action. Somebody makes an intense move and the orchestra follows him with an emphasis, like the strings. Somebody else is dreaming and the orchestra describes the sense of this dream. In other words, my music for Hook doesn't abstain from that of a cartoon, where the music has to be attached in the picture." In light of these comments, listeners shouldn't be surprised by frequent comparisons between parts of this score and Tchaikovsky's tunes for "The Nutcracker." Still, Williams was no stranger to films that used a dozen combined themes and motifs, and Hook went so far as to push twenty distinct representations. This luxury of specific identity for so many parts of the story causes the score to be among the most interesting and sustaining of the composer's career, foreshadowing The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in complexity. As an adventure score, it romps with some of the most exhilarating swashbuckling tones to come from Hollywood in the Digital Age. As a children's score, it moves with the grace and sincerity of Home Alone. As a dramatic score, it offers extended sequences of weighty beauty in its latter half. The realm of fantasy obviously inspires Williams, and Spielberg's involvement only amplifies that belief. "This area, the area of fantasy," Williams continues, "is the best one that can exist for music."

The disjointed film, jumping from location to location, modern to mythical, forced upon Williams the burden of not only using so many of his previous ideas for the concept, but also required a plethora of differing styles rolled into those themes. To successfully keep pace with the frenetic movement and countless characters of the film, Williams composed an enormous mass of music for the production, and much of it stylistically previewed several scores still to come from his pen. Pieces were interpreted from Home Alone and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and much of the underdeveloped material would later blossom in Far and Away, Jurassic Park, and even Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In retrospect, Hook seems as though it was fertile testing ground for countless new ideas from Williams, some of which reaching a spectacular maturity in the score while others simply serving as rambling teasers. The two 1985 songs directly adapted into Hook include "We Don't Wanna Grow Up" and "When You're Alone." The first is translated into an obnoxious source piece for a grade school performance near the start of the film. The latter earned Williams a surprising Oscar nomination, doubling as the orchestral theme for the grown Peter's kids. The remainder of the score's themes have never been entirely confirmed as either being connected to the 1985 songs or not, but nobody can claim that the primary title theme for Hook isn't among the composer's most impressive creations. Williams translated this theme into a 90-second fanfare for the film's beautiful and unique, map-traveling theatrical trailer, a rare occasion when a preview does the honor of introducing the film's eventual theme in glorious, overture fashion. Williams doesn't often do this; in fact, the next time he would attempt such a feat would come ten years later for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The trailer cue is entitled "Prologue" on the albums for Hook, and it has been argued as being the best minute and a half Williams has ever composed, even when included with all of his more famous efforts. So flighty and energetic is the swashbuckling attitude of this theme and its rowdy arrangement that it sets an elevated standard that the rest of the score has difficulty maintaining. Fortunately, the subsequent music comes close, which is all that's necessary to earn it the label of modern classic.

Outside of the trailer, the memorable title theme for Hook exists most prominently at 8:50 into "Remembering Childhood" (the most powerful ensemble performance on the remainder of the album) and about a minute into "The Ultimate War." Often associated with the title theme is Williams' representation of flying. This "flying theme" is a jovial and often rousing piece that receives its first swell of excitement from the full ensemble at 5:05 into "The Arrival of Tink and Flight to Neverland." It had existed previously as an appropriately slight hint in "Granny Wendy" (at 1:25) before unseating the title theme as the most prevalent idea in the pivotal "Remembering Childhood" (at 5:10 and 9:10) and "Farewell Neverland" (at 7:55 and 8:55) cues. In the former, a somber solo piano supplants the "childhood memory theme" as an equally effective reminder of innocence lost. The nature of this piano performance suggests heavily that this theme could easily have originated in song form. The "childhood memory theme" is one of lament for the older Peter Pan, and it contributes much of the melancholy melodrama in the score's second half. A flourish of this theme explodes at the two minute mark in "From Mermaids to Lost Boys" and anchors "Remembering Childhood" with solo performances passed around the woodwind section starting at 3:00. A lush string rendition of the theme exists early in "Farewell Neverland" (continuing for two minutes) and Williams adapted the idea into a rousing but unused suite-like form in "Exit Music." A particularly attractive secondary phrase to this theme also suggests possible song origins. The theme for Peter's kids, as mentioned already, is the basis for the "When You're Alone" song. The reminiscing parts of "Remembering Childhood" touch upon this identity (immediately at the start of the cue) before fragments compliment "Farewell Neverland" at about 1:00 and again at 7:25. Although the entire score for Hook can easily be described as a raucous and spirited ride, these three softer themes dominate the film's lengthy reflective sequences. The serious family side of Home Alone is prevalent in these portions, but Williams also uses a lofty choir to punctuate these moments of innermost feelings, a technique rare in the composer's career. Both "You Are the Pan" and "Farewell Neverland" provide mesmerizing choral performances that are spectacular counterpoint to the dynamic action otherwise heard during the swashbuckling scenes.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.15 Stars
***** 2,190 5 Stars
**** 721 4 Stars
*** 425 3 Stars
** 224 2 Stars
* 240 1 Stars
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La-La Land Records to release expanded OST
andrew_berge - March 13, 2012, at 8:52 p.m.
1 comment  (1103 views)
map-traveling theatrical trailer?
Django - February 8, 2009, at 10:18 a.m.
1 comment  (1377 views)
Brass Section (Hollywood Studio Symphony)
N.R.Q. - April 12, 2007, at 10:22 a.m.
1 comment  (1610 views)
I've hooked one of the best soundtracks.
Suicune - September 7, 2006, at 11:24 a.m.
1 comment  (1641 views)
Like Finding Neverland, this score has been forever tainted by PERVERTS
Julio Gomez - April 23, 2005, at 8:09 p.m.
1 comment  (2836 views)
Lyrics to When You're Alone?   Expand >>
shaye - April 17, 2005, at 12:08 a.m.
4 comments  (9469 views)
Newest: April 4, 2011, at 7:20 tash

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1991 Epic Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 75:23
• 1. Prologue (1:30)
• 2. We Don't Want to Grow Up - performed by cast ensemble (1:50)
• 3. Banning Back Home (2:22)
• 4. Granny Wendy (2:57)
• 5. Hook-napped (3:56)
• 6. The Arrival of Tink and the Flight to Neverland (5:55)
• 7. Presenting the Hook (2:58)
• 8. From Mermaids to Lost Boys (4:24)
• 9. The Lost Boy Chase (3:31)
• 10. Smee's Plan (1:44)
• 11. The Banquet (3:07)
• 12. The Never-Feast (4:39)
• 13. Remembering Childhood (11:02)
• 14. You Are the Pan (3:59)
• 15. When You're Alone - performed by Amber Scott (3:13)
• 16. The Ultimate War (7:53)
• 17. Farewell Neverland (10:16)
2012 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 140:35

Notes Icon
The 1991 Epic album's packaging is a disgrace. The insert was designed at the last minute (before the musical contents of the album were even known), causing a lack of track listings, credits, notes, or engineering information in its sparse pages. The thick insert of the 2012 La-La Land set contains extensive information about the film and the score, including a track-by-track analysis. Some track times on its packaging are incorrect, however.
Copyright © 1996-2015, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Hook are Copyright © 1991, 2012, Epic Soundtrax, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 8/19/12.
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